Univ. of Pa. Competition Eyes What’s Ahead in Smartphone Apps
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by Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — They could soon be on your smartphone or tablet: apps designed by students, staff, and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania that have generated a lot of buzz among software development firms and venture capitalists.
Of the six finalists in the AppItUP Challenge, four are health care apps. One is Anaphylaxis 911, by David Edwards and Rachel Edwards of Penn’s school of medicine.
“If you’re somewhere without your EpiPen — or if it’s not enough — you have a short window of opportunity before you lose consciousness,” explains Karina Sotnik, senior consultant for “UPstart,” the Center for Technology Transfer at Penn. “This app will call 911, relay all your information, and will continue to speak in a voice and say, ‘Please help me, I (am in) shock.’ That would be very useful for parents of children with allergies.”
Nearly 200 apps were submitted in three categories: commercial (“the next Uber, next Angry Birds”), noble mobile (“for greater good for society”), and specialized, such as for the health care field (“every emergency room doctor and nurse would want to use it,” explains Sotnik.)
Another app on the shortlist is “Beans,” by School of Design graduate student Sascha Hughes-Caley and Rahul Jindal, which attempts to do for java what Pandora promises for music fans.
“You love certain brands of coffee, so when you go to places where there are many different brands, it’ll tell you which one you’re most likely to like,” says Sotnik. “And they’re thinking of moving next to whiskeys and wines.”
There’s also “Drug Verifier,” by Wharton undergrad Titilayo Oshinaya, which spots counterfeit medications; “Survive Under 5,” by Peter Meaney, faculty at CHOP, for use by doctors and nurses in rural clinics when diagnosing and treating certain health crises; and “Wish.list,” by Wharton grad student Vikram Madan, which allows you to scan barcodes of stuff you want in any store and then share it on social media with gift-buying friends and family.
But that wasn’t all.
” ‘Point of Care’ (by Marion Leary, Audrey Blewer, and Benjamin Abella with the Penn School of Medicine) is one app that is very specialized but incredibly useful in educating medical professionals — doctors and nurses — on this new technique of hypothermia: how to lower body temperature in the event of cardiac arrest,” says Sotnik. “Apparently you have up to a 50 percent higher survival rate if you do it correctly — lowering a body temperature and slowly bringing it up. The developers are the leading group of professionals. They travel all around the world teaching other medical professionals how to do it. This app will go hand-in-hand with their educational efforts.”
This is the inaugural AppItUP competition by UPstart, which Sotnik says helps the Penn community commercialize ideas and technology. Software development companies work up free prototypes for the finalists, and the winner gets a grant to help jump-start his or her mobile app company.